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A Victory Awaits: Operation Barbarossa 1941» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Taking Barbarossa For a Spin at DonCon rss

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J. R. Tracy
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On Sunday morning of WBC I paired up with Nick Richardson to playtest the full three-map campaign game of this upcoming beast from MMP. This package combines Tetsuya Nakamura's three Fierce Fight! Barbarossa games (Smolensk Blitzkrieg, Leningrad Blitzkrieg, and Kiev Blitzkrieg), originally published by Game Journal.

Dr. Nick puts on his panzer pants

The basic chassis is a straightforward operational wargame system using chit pulls for activation (much the same as A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943 and A Victory Denied: Crisis at Smolensk, July-September, 1941). The chits represent HQs, which can activate any combat unit within range, regardless of formation. ZOCs are semi-permeable - you pay to both enter and leave. Exfiltrating from a dicey situation is near impossible for the slow Soviet rifle formations, but merely difficult for their German counterparts and mechanized troops. The CRT is pretty bloody and dangerous for the attacker up to 4:1 or so. Given the mobility of the forces and the ability to infiltrate ZOCs, the attacker can usually bring a lot of weight to bear in a critical situation. With that in mind a defender (almost always the Reds) must pick his line carefully to make the most of terrain bonuses and keep his flanks anchored.

PzG 3 makes life difficult for 11th Army

Nick took the Germans to my Red Army. The Wehrmacht PanzerArmees get a bonus combat phase before kicking things off in earnest. All of the German activation chits save Army Group South are available on the first turn, including the Manstein and Guderian chits, which are held aside and used to pre-empt any given chit. My Soviets, on the other hand, had limited activations, with only the frontier military districts able to respond to the dawn of Barbarossa.

No prospect of relief

Nick opened by pressing hard on either flank of the Bialystock salient, battling across several river lines and bagging hordes of Soviet rifle divisions in the process. I fell back as fast as I could while maintaining some semblance of a line. The poor lads in in the Bialystock Pocket were doomed, however. Whenever I pulled their chits, Nick stepped in with Mainstein (PanzerGruppe 4) or Guderian (PanzerGruppe 2) to thwart my plans. The panzer pincers met, cutting off my supply, and 3rd and 10th Armies marched into the permanently eliminated box, never to return. Down south, I exacted vengeance on the weak Romanians, after stripping that front of a few divisions to slow the advance of PanzerGruppe 1. The rest of my activity focused on rushing the troops of the interior military districts forward to stem the feldgrau tide.

Death's heads on the doorstep

Midgame, Nick's spearpoints were starting to look a little lonely as the infantry struggled to keep pace. He was stymied on the Baltic coast as the headquarters of 27th Army made a valiant stand in Riga, withstanding the assault of Totenkopf long enough for reinforcements to arrive to hold the Dvina river line. In the center, Fast Heinz jumped in to prevent me from meeting PzG 2 in the heart of the Pripet Marshes, but I stitched together a strong defense on the eastern edge. Up to this point my net losses had been heavy but now I was receiving over 20 divisions a turn, far outstripping Nick's ability to kill them off. No more pockets, and Nick's own precarious flanks forced him to pull in his horns a bit.

Guderian pushes through the swamp

Victory is determined by VPs, awarded for control of key cities and (for me) inflicting German casualties. With four turns to go Nick needed three more cities. Thanks to the glorious heroes of 27th Army, Leningrad was out of reach, but Minsk and Vitebsk were very much in play, and Gomel and Smolensk were vulnerable. We called it at that point, a tight game that could go either way.

I like my chances

Our mission was to make sure the separate games cohered as a whole, and to evaluate the Soviet game experience. On the former point, the campaign works well - the scope is huge but the basic systems are very straightforward and the chit pull system keeps both players involved without much downtime. It therefore moves at a very good pace - we played for about six hours and completed two thirds of the game, not bad for a game of this size. On the latter point, I definitely enjoyed the game, but I am partial to playing the Red Army in Barbarossa games. The Soviet player gets his head kicked in for the first three turns, but still has a lot of interesting decisions to make in terms of where to stand, where (and how far) to run, and most importantly, where to commit his reinforcements. As they stream onto the map you must commit yourself to a given axis and reorientation costs time.

Resistance begins to gel

The one thing I missed was the opportunity to make counterattacks, an historical feature of the campaign that is absent from almost every game on the subject. However, at the point we quit I was just getting the forces I needed to start punching back. I expect the last couple turns should see a more even fight on that count, as the Germans stretch to reach their last city and the Reds look to score some points off overaggressive panzer divisions.

Touch and go in the north and center

Overall, this looks to be a successful product. I think some map revisions are in the offing and I'm sure the rules and charts will get reworked, but the game itself is fundamentally sound and good to go. The three individual games will be playable as stand-alones as well, so it should be nicely scalable to your time and space constraints. Looking forward to seeing it published in the months to come.
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This looks so good, but I can't even get A Victory Lost on the table... so buying a monster version of the system like this game offers (even if it can be split into smaller scenarios) is more than I can commit to.

If only I had a willing opponent!
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J. R. Tracy
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oneiric wrote:
This looks so good, but I can't even get A Victory Lost on the table... so buying a monster version of the system like this game offers (even if it can be split into smaller scenarios) is more than I can commit to.

If only I had a willing opponent!


A fair point - it's a sprawling beast. One virtue of this series is the games are pretty solitaire-friendly (split-brain solitaire, not true player-vs-AI solitaire).
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jrtracy wrote:
... solitaire-friendly ...


Very true - I still prefer games where you play against a system instead of yourself, but the chit-pull activation works well and makes it easy to play both sides to the best of your ability.
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Erik Stonemark
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So does it seem likely that MMP will go ahead and produce this game?
The preorders have seemed to be slow in coming as discussed in another thread.
It is definitely a positive sign that this was at WBC.
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Perry Cocke
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redblackmonkey wrote:
So does it seem likely that MMP will go ahead and produce this game?
The preorders have seemed to be slow in coming as discussed in another thread.
It is definitely a positive sign that this was at WBC.


It seems certain that MMP wants to publish this game.

It seems likely that MMP will publish it.
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Max Bogatov
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I have written a post in my blog about A Victory Awaits, using your photos:
https://yawargamer.blogspot.com/2018/08/victory-awaits.html
If you don`t mind.
And please can you give some additional information: estimated date of publishing and counters size.
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